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Man and Machine

Chapter 7

Casey had drawn last watch, along with Tony and Major Parker. When Jack and Teal'c both emerged from their tents, the major sent his two watch companions back to the 'gate for the scheduled check-in.

Casey leaned back against the rack that conveniently held equipment, her P90 clutched tightly in her hands as they sped along the road. They were going best speed, and would be at the gate within thirty minutes. The sun was over the horizon now, the sky pink and cloudless above them. They weren't more than fifteen minutes from the 'gate when 'that' feeling hit her, and hit her hard. "Tony, stop!"

Years of working with the woman, understanding that she would never make such a demand lightly, made the SF obey without question. "What's up, Case?"

"Trouble. Big, big trouble."

"Well, hell," Tony muttered. "Okay, let's find a place to hide this. We're close enough we should be able to get there on foot soon enough."

She nodded her agreement. A nearby cottage, or what was left of it, provided the perfect cover for the ATV. Concerned about being caught on the road, the two soldiers moved into the light brush that reached all the way to the pavement. It took another thirty minutes to get close to the 'gate.

They heard them before they saw them. Jaffa. Lots of them. Both felt their hearts hammering within their chests. They inched forward, staying hidden in the tall grass that grew along the side of the road.

"Case, better let 'em know," Tony whispered.

She nodded. 'Daniel?'

'Right here Angel.'

'We have big, big trouble.'

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Back in the camp Daniel's heart fell to his feet. He turned to Robert. "Casey took the road that leads to the Stargate…that… uh …giant circle."

"I know that of which you speak," Robert nodded.

"I need you to get there, as quickly as possible. But you must not be seen, do you understand?"

The android nodded. "I must protect the woman, Casey Jackson."

Daniel smiled. "Exactly. Go!'

Robert turned toward the road, and began running.

'Daniel?'

'I'm here, babe. Just sent Robert to you. Don't know how long it will take him to get there.'

'Thanks. We're staring at Jaffa. More than I've seen in a long time. And I don't recognize the tattoos right off hand.' Identifying enemy Jaffa had always been Teal'c's forte. She could never remember which tattoo went with what System Lord.

'What did they do to the MALP?'

'Nothing, from what we can tell. Looks like they've been here awhile. At least an hour or so. Shit! The First Prime is sending out patrols. We've got to move…we have a place to hide.'

'Where?'

'Cottage on the side of the road about three miles from the 'gate. It would be nice to have some backup.'

'We're on our way.' Daniel turned to Jack, that man nearly bouncing on his feet wanting to know what was happening, Turk and Major Parker just as anxious beside him. "Jaffa. Lots of them, she said. Patrols are being sent out now, she and Tony are going to hide in a cottage they found, she says it's by the side of the road, three miles from the 'gate."

"I remember it," Jack nodded.

Daniel checked his 9millimeter, stuck it into the holster on his thigh, grabbed his P90. "She said backup would be nice."

Jack grinned. "Mount up, we're gonna go greet some Jaffa." He turned to the grad students. "You keep those zats in your hands, but you don't fire unless I tell you to, got it?"

Three heads nodded the affirmative. Three hearts pounded with excitement…and trepidation. Todd and Ramir welcomed the chance for adventure. They were listening with rapt attention as General O'Neill, Major Parker and Marine Major Turak discussed their situation. Stephanie was only hoping to survive her first encounter with enemy Jaffa. Doing research back in the Center sounded so very nice at this moment, she thought, as she climbed onto an ATV behind Todd, her zat gripped tightly with trembling fingers.

"Let's go, people," Jack said. He jumped on the ATV behind Sam.

Daniel reached out, just to make sure she was there. She was, she had felt him, and reached out to caress him.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Tony and Casey watched as the patrol moved closer to the cottage. Obviously they had noticed the trampled grass, the footprints and tire tracks in the mud. When the patrol began to split up, they knew that within minutes they would be surrounded.

"Oh, what a lovely way to start the freakin' day," Casey groused.

"Front or back?" Tony asked.

"I'll take the front," she replied.

He nodded, shifted his body to the floor, carefully crawled to the back of the tiny room. There was one small window. He glanced to his left, bit back a curse. A narrow hallway. And another open doorway at the end of it. "Shit!" he grumbled.

"What?"

"Window and doorway."

"Can you watch both?"

"Not easily."

"All you can do is your best," she replied.

"Let's hope it's good enough," Tony said. He pressed his side against the wall, eased up and looked out of the window, glancing at that open doorway every few seconds.

Casey was the first to fire, taking down the Jaffa who was now just a few feet from the front door. Staff weapons fire filled the air, blackening the walls around her, bringing down plaster and wood. Her P90 answered, spitting a hail of armor-piercing bullets that brought down two more of the advancing Jaffa.

Tony was firing out of the window, two of the enemy were approaching from that direction. A quick glance told him that they hadn't yet noticed that damned doorway. He raised up to fire again. Brought down one of the Jaffa who was moving toward him. Cried out when he was hit by a zat.

Casey was still firing, didn't have time to turn around to see what was happening behind her. She never saw the Jaffa who calmly took aim and fired at her, rendering her unconscious.

Robert heard the noise of the battle. He searched his memory banks for any recognition of the sounds. Could find none. He continued to run toward them. He stopped, crouched down, and watched as strange…creatures…carried Casey Jackson, and the one designated as 'Tony', from the small structure. Both were unconscious. His primary function was to protect. The newly programmed protocol was to protect Casey Jackson. He rose up, and began to run toward the creature who was carrying her. He had nearly achieved his goal of stopping the creature and freeing Casey Jackson when an odd sound filled the air. His internal sensors immediately notified his brain that he had been hit, and that the damage was severe. He went down. Unable to fulfill primary function…unable to fulfill primary function…unable to fulfill…

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The First Prime looked at the bodies of the two humans that had been dumped in front of him. "Tie them. See to it that they cannot escape," he barked at the Jaffa. "Jaffa, kree!" He led the remainder of the Jaffa, those not already assigned to guard the Chappa'ai, down the paved road. His god wanted this planet taken in Her name. It would be done.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The cottage was empty. The ATV was still there. So were the P90's. Dropped most likely when they had been hit. From the amount of damage to the cottage, and the number of footprints around the battered shelter, it had been a fairly large patrol. The layout of the cottage had made it impossible for two people to hold it for very long.

Daniel reached out, realized that she was unconscious. At least she wasn't being tortured…yet. He wondered if the android had reached her, had perhaps managed to get her away to safety.

"Okay, we're gonna leave the ATVs here. Let's move out, keep your eyes open," Jack said.

When Ramir and Todd would have headed for the road, Texas calmly pulled them back into the brush. Teal'c took point. Jack signaled that Turk and Marine 2 should take the six, and he pointed to the three grad students, then at Major Parker and Texas, effectively putting the two men in charge of them. The group headed out, eyes alert, weapons ready.

They began to move forward. Two of their own had been captured. And that was just not acceptable.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

She opened her eyes slowly. She was lying on her side, her hands tied to her feet. Oh, lovely, she grumped. She hadn't even had a second cup of coffee! Not to mention that she was cramping. And needed to clean the diaphragm she used instead of tampons. What a really sucky day this was turning out to be!

"Case? You okay?"

"I'm okay, Tony. You?"

"Trussed up like a goddamned turkey, but I'm okay."

She giggled. Which caught the attention of the two guards. "What the hell are you staring at, buttface?"

"Casey!" Tony exclaimed, trying not to laugh. "Let's not piss off the help!"

"Fuck 'em. I'm in a really bad mood, Tony. Really, really bad. All I need is just one chance!"

Oh, hell, the SF thought. PMS. Every man who had ever worked with Casey Jackson was aware of her moods during that time of the month. The running joke at SGC Gamma was that she should be loaded up with a couple P90's and turned loose on the Goa'uld when she was PMS-ing. She could take on an entire mother ship alone during her 'hell week'. The consensus was that any Jaffa or Goa'uld left alive would be begging for imprisonment, willing to tell their captors everything to avoid facing that pissed-off blonde hellcat. Right now, Tony thought, if she got pissy, it could get them both killed. And he wasn't Immortal.

She suddenly changed tactics. She watched the guards. Gave them her best innocent look, her eyes wide and beseeching. One of the guards moved closer. "Please, it hurts…could I at least sit up?"

"Your comfort is of no concern," the guard farthest away replied.

"I…I…" she dropped her eyes, looked up at the closest Jaffa through her lashes. "Please…I've never…I'm so frightened! I could…I could make it worth your while…"

Tony bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud. Give it up, asshole, he thought gleefully. When that woman turns on the charm, there isn't a man drawing breath that can resist!

The guard moved a bit closer.

"Please, I'll…I'll do whatever you say! I don't want to die! Please help me!" She watched his eyes. C'mon, big boy, fall for it, she thought irritably. She wanted to get this over with, get rid of the Jaffa and have that second cup of coffee!

The large man knelt down beside her, began to loosen the ropes that bound her. He rubbed her wrists, his eyes moving her, taking in her slender frame, the curves that were just discernable beneath her fatigues.

Casey gave him a trembling smile. "Can I stand up? My whole body hurts," she said softly, moving her shoulders, thrusting her breasts toward the Jaffa.

He smiled down at the beautiful blonde woman, helped her to her feet, his body reacting ardently when she stumbled against him, her breasts pressed against his wrist and hand. His staff weapon fell to the ground as he used both hands to steady her…and pull her closer. Her sweet scent wafted toward him, hypnotized him.

Teal'c had often told her that she was a good student when she sparred with him, learning Jaffa self-defense techniques. She was about to find out if she would do as well in an actual fight against this much larger enemy. She swept at his ankles with one foot, knocked him to the ground. She was kneeling in the middle of his chest, reaching for the staff weapon. Her fingers closed around it just before he threw her off of his body. She rolled, came up to her knees, already firing. Both guards went down. Several others began running toward them. She continued to fire as she crawled to where Tony was still laying. A staff blast from behind her ended the escape attempt.

Tony winced as he was shoved roughly into a cage. The good news…they were completely ignoring Casey for the time being. The bad news…there was no way she could reanimate without most of those assholes seeing it. Which would be very, very bad indeed. He could only hope that the general and the major and the Marines would be here soon.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The first patrol had been easy to take out. It seemed that they didn't know about the two prisoners that had been taken behind them. They weren't expecting any sort of attack or resistance on an uninhabited planet, so when they had passed by the crumbled buildings on the edge of town, where SG-1, Marine 2, and two members of SG-6 waited patiently, they didn't even give it a second glance. In just a matter of minutes the entire patrol was wiped out. The second patrol had heard the sounds of the battle. Had heard the sounds of the enemy moving into the brush. They were moving cautiously, slowly.

The teams waited silently until the Jaffa had passed them. Daniel blinked the sweat from his eyes as he waited. He had reached out twice, felt her once, now could feel only darkness. She was dead. For how long, or how she had been killed he had no idea. His stomach burned, his heart was pounding, desperate with the need to know she would be all right. The last of the patrol walked past him, where he lay beneath a large bush.

Jack stood up and killed the closest Jaffa, the signal for the rest of the group to open fire. Once again the still morning air was broken by the sounds of a battle. They could hear the clanking sounds of more Jaffa running towards them. Shit! he swore silently. Casey had been right…there were a lot of the bastards running around.

It wasn't possible to take cover here again, not with the dead bodies of Jaffa lying around. The group ran farther from the road, toward the small area of woods that they could see. Their only chance was to circumvent the patrols, move in behind them and retake the 'gate. Then they could call for more backup.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Casey's back arched; she gasped loudly, taking as much air into her lungs as she could. The Jaffa nearby were shocked to see the dead human now sitting up, shaking her blonde head slightly.

"Oh, damn that hurt," she muttered. She glanced around her, stood slowly to her feet. "Have you never seen a god before?" she demanded, thinking quickly. Hoping that the idea that had popped into her head would allow her and Tony to get away from these tin-suited goons!

Several of the Jaffa glanced at one another. This woman had been dead, yet now she lived, and without the aid of a sarcophagus! Several began to kneel before her.

Well now, this was more like it! "Whom do you serve?"

"We serve Lord Morrigan," one of the Jaffa replied. He wondered why this woman did not speak with the voice of a god. The ways of gods were mysterious, indeed!

Morrigan? The last report that Gamma had received was that the Prometheus had destroyed her mothership. Well, it seemed that Morrigan had not been on board after all! Casey shook her head. She was in no mood to put up with some Goa'uld bitch. Time to take her out and be done with it. "Where does she wait for you?"

"She waits in her palace…er…My Lord."

She had always wondered why all the Goa'uld insisted on being called 'My Lord', even the women. Well, maybe all the body hopping confused them. Maybe the Goa'uld themselves were all male. Maybe the Goa'uld were sexless. Maybe she should quit thinking about the gender issues of the damned Goa'uld and worry about getting out of this mess! "You may refer to me as 'My Lady'. I am a woman, as you can see."

"Yes, My Lady," the Jaffa replied nervously.

"Vow your loyalty to me now, and I will allow you to live." Every one of the Jaffa knelt before her. It would be nice to be able to throw around blue fireballs like Daniel…she smiled. 'Daniel?'

'Angel! Are you all right?'

'I'm fine. Where are you?'

'Trying to get to the 'gate. Where are you?'

'At the 'gate. Hang on a second.' She turned to the Jaffa. "Call the others back. Tell them that if they run into the great god…uh…Daniel…that he'll kill them, and I will be unable to protect them."

One of the Jaffa raised what looked like an animal horn, some sort of goat or ram perhaps, to his lips, and blew loudly. The sound echoed in the air, it seemed to last for seconds after the note itself died out.

'Daniel, get to the road. As soon as you see Jaffa, start throwing fireballs. Look pissed.'

'Do what?'

'Trust me, Oh Great God Daniel.'

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

In the woods where the teams were slowly making their way toward the Stargate, Daniel cracked up laughing. 'I want all of the details when I get there.'

'Okay…but remember…look really pissed…and god-like.'

'Okay, Angel.' He turned to his friends, who were watching him carefully. "Case says to get on the road. I'm supposed to throw lots of fireballs around…and looked pissed and god-like."

Jack chuckled. "She's up to something!"

"Oh, yeah, she is," Daniel agreed. Relief was pounding in his veins. She was alive. She was okay! She was most certainly up to something. The most important thing, in his mind, however, was that she was alive.

"Okay, kids, let's double time it," Jack said. He led the way back toward the paved road.

They hadn't been on the road more than a few minutes when the clanking of armor behind them alerted them to the approach of Jaffa, coming from the city. Jack waved everyone to the side of the road, where they knelt down in what appeared to be servility.

Daniel stood in the middle of the pavement, feet shoulder width apart, hands on his hips. As soon as the Jaffa were close enough, led by the First Prime, his tattoo gold glinting in the sunlight, he raised his hands. Two fireballs impacted at their feet. The Jaffa stopped, all of them surprised, eyeing the man with suspicion.

The First Prime raised his staff weapon. "Who are you?"

'I am Daniel, the god who will strike you down for your impudence," Daniel said, his blue eyes narrowing as he stared at the man in front of him.

'Daniel?'

'What?'

'Any Jaffa?'

'Right in front of me.'

'Okay, so I'm like begging you not to kill them, since their brethren have sworn loyalty to me.'

He 'heard' her giggle. Which made it damned hard keep his face impassive. 'Got it.' He looked at the man again. "My…er... Queen begs me for your life. She says that those who have arrived with you have sworn their loyalty to her. Swear yours to me now, and I will spare your worthless lives." To his own ears, his words sounded completely over the top. Which, his brain argued, was exactly the way those egotistical Goa'uld sounded.

The First Prime did not miss the fact that there was no ribbon device on this man's hand, the fire he had thrown had come from the fingertips of both hands. A powerful god indeed! More powerful than Lord Morrigan, he could tell. He knew his…former…god well enough to know that if faced by this more powerful enemy, she would willingly leave behind any Jaffa that might slow her escape. She would wait for none of them before fleeing, expecting them to die so that she might live. He dropped to his knees. Every one of the Jaffa behind him followed suit. "What would you have us do, My Lord?" he asked.

"We will return to the Chappa'ai," Daniel replied. He was surprised that the ruse was actually working! "My advisors and personal guard will accompany us."

Jack, the Marines, SG-6, and the grad students stood up, moved to stand behind Daniel like an entourage.

If the Jaffa recognized any of the humans, or Teal'c, nothing was said. Daniel insisted that the First Prime and his men lead the way, he didn't want armed enemies at his back!

Twenty minutes later the group approached the Stargate. Tony and Casey were sitting on the steps. Jaffa surrounded them, all standing at attention.

Casey stood, waited for Daniel to get closer. When he was nearly to the steps, she walked forward, and knelt down in front of him, lowered her head. "My Lord, I bid you welcome," she said, her soft voice echoing in the silence that surrounded them.

Behind her Tony barely managed to keep from laughing out loud as he too knelt in subservience to his 'god'.

Daniel smiled, reached down and pulled her to her feet. "Thank you, Beloved," he replied.

"I present these Jaffa as a gift to you, My Lord. I ask only that you spare their lives. They have vowed their loyalty to me, and as such, to you," she said, glancing at the Jaffa who stood nearby. All of whom looked extremely nervous.

"I accept your gift, Wife. Do not, however, believe that you are free to dictate terms to me," Daniel replied sternly. 'Too over the top?'

"Of course not, My Lord. Forgive me," she said softly, lowering her eyes, struggling to keep from smiling. 'I don't think so, they're all buying it.'

Stephanie, Todd and Ramir were staring. Had Dr. Jackson and Mrs. Jackson been taken over by Goa'uld? No, it couldn't be possible, they sure didn't sound like Goa'uld…but the way they were behaving, and the fact that all of the Jaffa were…obeying them…was a bit worrisome. The three exchanged nervous glances.

"What would you have these new Jaffa do for you?" Casey asked.

"Where did they come from?"

"They once served Morrigan. She awaits their return in her palace."

Daniel turned to Teal'c. "Does Master Bra'tac have a well fortified camp that would be able to…take in…these Jaffa?"

Teal'c smiled. "I know of just the place."

"Good, send them there. Maybe you should go with them, just long enough to explain things to him…and them," Daniel suggested. "It shouldn't take you long, we can contact the uh…" he glanced at the Jaffa that surrounded them, "we can call home, and then you can come back. Sound okay, Jack?"

"Anything you want, oh God Daniel," Jack said, trying not to snicker out loud.

"Bite me, Jack."

"And have you blow me up with a cool blue fireball? No way." This time the general did chuckle. "Sounds like a good plan, Daniel. Do it, Teal'c."

With a nod of his head, the large man walked to the DHD and began to dial. The 'gate opened with the customary splendor.

"You will go with this Jaffa…my…uh…First Prime," Daniel said. "He will take you to my…uh…" he glanced at Teal'c.

"I will take them to your training camp, My Lord."

Daniel watched Teal'c's dark eyes light up with laughter. Oh, yeah, the team was going to razz him about this! And it was all Casey's idea! "Yes, you will. See that you return immediately upon delivering them to the Master."

Teal'c inclined his head once again. He led the subdued, and confused, Jaffa through the 'gate.

As soon as the event horizon had closed, Casey burst into giggles. "Oh, that was too funny!"

Daniel grinned at her. "Okay, what the hell was all of that about?"

"Well, I got 'that' feeling, and Tony and I managed to get close enough to see that there were Jaffa here. We made it back to that little cottage, but we couldn't hold out against the patrol," she said.

"Lousy layout for two people to hold," Turk murmured.

She nodded her head. "Exactly. Well, we got zatted, woke up tied up…I got free…"

"Tell him exactly how you got free, Miss 'I'm-so-afraid-please-Mr.-Jaffa-I'll-do-anything'," Tony mimicked in falsetto, batting his eyelashes furiously. Texas hooted with laughter.

Casey glared at the SF. "As I was saying, I managed to get free-"

"But not before she had some poor Jaffa so worked up he dropped his staff weapon," Tony interjected, laughing harder. By now all of the teams were laughing.

Daniel was laughing as well. "I get the picture. So then what happened?"

"Well, I managed to get the staff weapon, killed a few of them…but got shot in the back." She turned around to show him the damage to her BDU. When I woke up, they all started staring at me…and I wasn't in a very good mood-"

"Ah, yes, PMS-ing, weren't you?" Daniel teased.

"I was not! I just wasn't in a good mood! I didn't get my second cup of coffee this morning!" Casey shot back. "Anyway, I had to think of something fast, and so I asked them if they had never seen a god before…and…well, it just sort of took off from there."

Jack wiped his eyes, still laughing so hard he could barely speak. He had witnessed Casey in action in the past. That poor Jaffa had never stood a chance! "That was some fast thinking all right, Case. It worked great. Good job. We got rid of some Jaffa, freed the rest, and didn't lose anybody."

Daniel looked around. "Where's Robert?"

"He never showed up," Casey replied.

"Chances are Jaffa got him," Texas said.

Jack nodded. "We'll look around. Sam, any way you can still work on him, even if he isn't functioning?"

"Of course," Sam replied immediately.

The general looked at the Marines. "Okay, you get to find the missing robot. Bring him here, we'll take him back with us when we go home. We'll meet you back at camp."

Turk nodded. "Okay, grunts, move out!"

Stephanie approached Casey. "You had me worried for a little bit," she admitted.

"How?" Casey was clipping her P90, handed to her by Daniel, back onto her vest.

"I thought that maybe you…and Doctor Jackson, really were Goa'uld…and that you'd…well, that you'd just been working with us," the young woman replied.

Casey laughed. "I understand. Nope, not Goa'uld. See, if any of those snakes tried to infest us, they wouldn't survive. We'd get their memories. Have the glowy-eyed thing, and the voice, which we would be able to control at will, like Methos does. Something about residual affects allows that. But the Goa'uld would be destroyed."

"Because you're Immortal," Ramir said, nodding his head.

"Exactly."

"Colonel, better call home. We're almost four hours overdue," Jack said.

Sam grinned, and dialed the 'gate. The entire group could hear Duncan laughing as Jack and Daniel filled him in on what had been going on. Daniel informed Duncan that they would locate the two temples, and then explore them the following day. Depending on what they found, they would either return the day after that, or send for more supplies.

Getting the go-ahead for their plans, the transmission was cut, and the group waited around for Teal'c. When the 'gate opened, they all took defensive positions. Just in case Morrigan was waiting for a report from her now missing Jaffa.

The dark warrior walked down the steps. "All of Morrigan's Jaffa were eager to join with Master Bra'tac," he announced. "When they were informed that the 'god' with whom they had spoken was no god at all, but the Tau'ri Daniel Jackson, they were more than willing to be done with false gods who hold no true power."

"I'm glad to hear that, Teal'c," Daniel said, smiling at his friend. He looked over at Casey. "Ready for some lunch?"

"Lunch? What the hell happened to breakfast? Oh yeah…go make a report, Casey. Tell Duncan what we've found, Casey. Then we walk into Jaffa central. Get zatted. Get killed. Play a goddess. God, I'm hungry!" She looked around. "Please tell me we don't have to walk all the way back to camp!"

The men of SG-6 were snickering, trying to keep from drawing Casey's attention to them.

"Only as far as that cottage. All the ATVs are there." Daniel grinned at his wife. She was cute as hell when she was pissy. Dangerous, but cute.

"Good. Let's go." She started walking down the road.

Jack grinned, slapped Daniel on the back. "Glad she's yours, buddy," he said, then put his arm around Sam's shoulders and followed the young blonde.

He jogged to catch up with her, grabbed her hand, folded his fingers around hers. "Still cramping?"

"Yeah," she replied softly.

"As soon as we get to camp, take some aspirin."

She nodded. Gee, why didn't I think if that, she thought peevishly, just barely resisting the urge to say so out loud. She wouldn't bother telling him that she had already planned to do just that. "What will you be looking for, in those temples, I mean?"

"I'm not sure, Angel. I guess I'll know it when I see it."


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